Perversion for Profit is a 1965 propaganda film financed by Charles Keating and narrated by news reporter George Putnam. A vehement diatribe against pornography, the film argues that sexually explicit materials corrupt young viewers and readers, leading to acts of violence and “perverted” attitudes regarding sex—including inclination toward homosexuality. Although Perversion for Profit is quite serious in its suggestion that pornography could erode the integrity of American culture, Peter L. Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in a 2003 review that it was “shrill and sometimes comical”.
Today, Perversion for Profit is in the public domain, and due largely to its unintentional humor value, it has become popular on the Prelinger Archives website and on YouTube. As Peter L. Stein observes in an article for the San Francisco Chronicle, however, the film also has considerable historical significance, serving as a sort of time capsule of pornography from the era as well as an example of historical concerns regarding media influence:
…as the parade of girlie magazine covers, men’s physique pictorials and campy S&M leaflets continues, the film betrays a kind of prurience the filmmakers could hardly have intended. What results is a remarkable visual record of midcentury underground literature and sexual appetites, and a gloss on the values of the society that condemned them.
“Now, you might ask yourself ‘Why this sudden concern? Pornography and sex deviation have always been with mankind.’ This is true. But, now, consider another fact: never in the history of the world have the merchants of obscenity, the teachers of unnatural sex acts, had available to them the modern facilities for disseminating this filth. High-speed presses, rapid transportation, mass distribution: all have combined to put the vilest obscenity within reach of every man, woman, and child in the country.”—George Putnam, narrator.
“This same type of rot and decay caused sixteen of the nineteen major civilizations to vanish from the Earth. Magnificent Egypt, classical Greece, imperial Rome, all crumbled away not because of the strength of the aggressor, but because of moral decay from within. But we are in a unique position to cure our own ills: our Constitution was written by men who put their trust in God and founded a government based in His laws. These laws are on our side. We have a constitutional guarantee of protection against obscenity. And, in this day especially, we must seek to deliver ourselves from this twisting, torturing evil. We must save our nation from decay and deliver our children from the horrors of perversion. We must make our land, ‘the land of the free’, a safe home. Oh, God, deliver us, Americans, from evil.”—George Putnam, narrator (closing words).
“This moral decay weakens our resistance to the onslaught of the communist masters of deceit.” —George Putnam, narrator.
File under Culture, History of Pornography, Horror, SeMeN SPeRmS BLArRrG, SeMeN SPeRmS ViDeO CLuB, Sex